I thought it would be difficult to top a supremely satisfying day at Waterville yesterday. I think I achieved a tie. After reading NEMBA reports that Otis was free of snow, I just had to get down there. This was a pattern I enjoyed most of last winter - ski in the Whites on Saturday, ride trails on the Cape on Sunday. But this winter didn't leave the Cape unscathed. Only after the 60F temps this week, did the last of the snow melt.
When I got to the Otis parking area along Rt 151, I was shocked. Parking space was at a premium. As I unloaded my bike, a hiker that had just come out of the woods rhetorically asked "is this a mountain biking mecca or what?" He was not one of the hostile hiker types. He got it. Then a couple guys pulled up behind me. They quipped there must be race going on today. It was that crazy. I think anybody that has touched tires to dirt from New England was there.
Not having ridden dirt for two months, I couldn't get my shoes on quick enough. I brought my Ti hardtail, which was still covered in Ozarks dust from my short trip to Arkansas. I hadn't touched that bike since uncrating it.
The trails were in superb shape. Maybe frozen in a couple spots, but hard, dry and fast. There were a couple minuscule icy patches. I went solo, as I always have trouble recruiting other New Hampshirites to make the haul down there. The time commitment really isn't any greater than skiing in the Whites. I ran into Rich Brown and posse at the top of Deer Horn Hill.
I did about three loops, starting out with that wonderful piece along Rt 28. Second and third loops took me further in. One of them had me follow the rails, then that trialsy trail. I don't clean too much on that one. It was so good to be back on dirt that I completely forgot how trashed I was from skiing three hours the day before. I finished the ride with 22.2 miles in 2:32hrs riding time. Interestingly, I averaged higher speed while climbing more vertical on skis yesterday.
Back home, my endorphin buzz was quickly snuffed out. I showered, was eating with my wife and son when Cathy says "what's that noise coming from the basement?" I open the door and hear what sounds like a large waterfall. I run down, and an open drain that the water softener drains into was spewing water. The washing machine was in a rinse cycle. The water softener goes into the same drain as the washing machine. I figured maybe soap scum plugged it up. I go back to finish my chili, then unscrewed a clean-out cover just below the plug, or so I thought. The pressure was so great it blew the cap out of my hands, and I took a brown shower. There was bits of corn in it even. There's only one way that could have gotten there...
I then went to the garage, unscrewed a 4" cap to main house line, thinking that will surely be open. Nope, spewed volumes more nasty substance into the garage. This time it was even chunkier. I could see all the way down that pipe to the far side of the house. Now I was worried, as there was only one more cleanout just before exiting the foundation to the septic system. To Lowes I went to get a snake.
I was now weary of taking clean-out covers off. The one at the foundation was much lower and probably had about 50 gallons of water behind it. I partially unscrewed it and filled 5 gallon bucket after bucket at a trickle pace. Eventually the water stopped. I pulled the cap and started feeding the snake in. The septic tank is about 12ft from the house. About 10ft in, the snake stopped hard. I could not get it through. I thought maybe ice. But then it went through. I fed it in about 25ft until I could tell I was hitting concrete, probably the far wall of the septic tank. I came back out to work on the obstructed area. There was definitely something there. After working back and forth through it for a long time, I figured I had it cleared, yet the water refused to go through. Now I was worried big time, thinking maybe my drain field was plugged. To bring heavy equipment out this time of year for new drain field would cost 10's of thousands. To add insult to injury, my son forgot I had all the inspection caps off and flushed a toilet upstairs. I went ballistic. Like the basement wasn't flooded with enough greasy corn laden residue already.
Aaron did have a good idea though. I had a solid oak hand railing that was about 16ft long. That stuff cost about $10/ft, but I was desperate. Aaron suggested using that to ram the obstructed area as last ditch effort. Sure enough, I could not get it through at first. The point on the snake is like a deer arrow head, a pretty small cross section. The railing though was about 2.5" in diameter. Eventually I pounded it through. With a hose, I got water to go through. I could then see down the pipe. There appears to be some kind of intrusion into the pipe about 8-12ft away from the foundation, like a rusty spike or something poking in. I guess over time enough stuff got stuck on that and plugged 'er up. I was relieved the septic system was still fine. Now we had a huge mess to clean up. The basement and garage smell unbelievably bad. So do I, after scrubbing in the shower. Maybe people will stay out of my office tomorrow.
All in all, a small damper on an otherwise out of this world weekend. There's some speculation that a big storm could be brewing for later this week. I just hope it doesn't take Otis back out of the picture.